Mark Zuckerberg believes Apple and his company are in “very deep, philosophical competition” to create the Metaverse, suggesting that the two tech giants are ready to sell hardware for augmented and virtual reality.
Meta’s CEO told employees earlier this month that he was competing with Apple to determine “in which direction the Internet should go,” his comments during an internal all-hands meeting he received. according to recording ledge, He said Meta will position itself as a more open, cheaper alternative to Apple, which is expected to announce its first AR headset soon, later this year.
“It’s a competition of philosophy and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating they create a better consumer experience,” Zuckerberg said of the brooding rivalry. “And we believe there’s a lot to be done in specializing across different companies, and [that] would allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”
Since rebranding Facebook’s company name to Meta, Zuckerberg has been pushing the concept of interoperability for the Metaverse, or what he sees as the next major chapter in computing after mobile phones. Meta most recently helped form the Metaverse Open Standards Group with Microsoft, Epic Games, and others. The idea is to encourage the creation of open protocols that will let people easily move through the immersive, 3D worlds of the future with their virtual goods.
Apple is absent from the group, which Zuckerberg described as not surprising in his comments to employees. He explained how Apple’s approach to building hardware and software had worked well with the iPhone, but for the metaverse, “it’s not really clear whether an open or closed ecosystem is going to be better.”
“It’s not really clear whether an open or closed ecosystem would be better”
While CEO Tim Cook has been candid about the company’s interest in AR as a category, Apple has been notably silent about its unannounced hardware plans. Still, all signs point to the imminent release of a high-end headset that blurs the full immersion of VR with AR experiences that overlay on the real world. Meta plans to release a similar headset, codenamed Cambria, later this year, and is also producing its first true pair of AR glasses.
If VR and AR take flight like Zuckerberg’s hopes, it looks like he wants to keep the meta in Apple’s iOS as much as Android. There’s a parallel to the draw already: Meta’s Quest headset already allows sideloading of apps that aren’t approved by Meta’s VR App Store, in the same way that Google’s Android allows sideloading. And even though it raised the Quest’s price by $100, Meta’s hardware is still mostly sold at a loss or breakeven.
Apple and Meta have never really seen face-to-face. The former is currently costing the latter billions of dollars in lost ad revenue on iOS, thanks to a sign that asks people if they want a third-party app to track ads showing them. Zuckerberg’s remarks suggest that even as he tries to find his way out on mobile from under Apple’s thumb, the two tech giants are going to grapple for years to come.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of Zuckerberg’s answer on June 30 to a Meta employee’s question about the Metaverse competition with Apple:
Employee Question: Apple is absent from Metaverse standards and is coming out with AR glasses of its own. How does this affect Oculus and our ecosystem? Thank you.
Mark Zuckerberg: I think it’s pretty clear that Apple is going to be a competitor to us not just as a product but philosophically. We are looking at it in an open way and trying to create a more open ecosystem. We are trying to make more things interoperable with Android. We’re trying to develop the Metaverse in a way where you can move your virtual goods from one world to another. We created the Metaverse Open Standards group with a bunch of other people you just mentioned, and Apple didn’t get involved. But I don’t think it’s any surprise. Apple, for a few generations of computing, has been the closed provider of computing.
It is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and integrating tightly, they create a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in the area of expertise in different companies, and [that] would allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.
I think one of the interesting things is that it’s not really clear whether an open or closed ecosystem would be better. If you look back on the PC, Windows was clearly the one that had a lot of scale and became the default and norm used by people. And Mac did fine, but I think PC and Windows were, I think, the dominant ecosystem in that environment.
On mobile, I’d say it’s the other way around. There are more Android devices than iOS devices, but I think that’s kind of high end in developed countries and places like the US or Western Europe, [and] A lot of culture-setters and developers, I think, are a little more inclined towards the iPhone and iOS. So I would say on mobile, Apple has really positioned itself quite well, and that’s why they’re the most valuable company in the world, or maybe one of the most valuable companies in the world.
But I don’t think the future is written for the metaverse here yet. And I think part of our work is that we’ll continue to do pioneering research and push this across all levels of the stack. We’re doing VR. We’re doing AR. We basically deliver our equipment at cost or at a small subsidy, or in some cases a little over cost. But the bottom line is that our business isn’t primarily taking a premium on equipment. We want as many people to talk there as possible. Part of this is that it is an open ecosystem that is interoperable.
Our north star is, can we get a billion people into the metaverse by paying hundreds of dollars in digital commerce by the end of the decade? If we do this, we will build a business that is as big as our current advertising business within this decade. I think that’s a really exciting thing. I think a big part of how you do it is moving the open metaverse, which is what we’re going to do.
So yes, Apple is going to be a competitor. I think it’s pretty obvious, but it’s actually a pretty deep competitor. This is not right [that] They have a device that has a few more features than us. It’s a very deep, philosophical contest as to which direction the Internet should go. And I’m proud of the investment we’re making on this to help keep the open metaverse moving forward and hopefully make the next version of computing a little more open.